What is Opportunity Maine?

A grassroots coalition that helped establish the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit, a college affordability program for individuals who have earned a college degree in Maine and continue to live and work in the state. This program may provide significant tax benefits to Maine residents paying back eligible student loans.


The Program

The Educational Opportunity Tax Credit (EOTC) can provide substantial tax savings for eligible Maine residents. If you graduated from a Maine college, and live and work in the state, then you may be eligible for tax credits based upon the amount of student loan payments that you have made during the year.

How to Claim the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit

Participation in the program is simple. All you have to do to take advantage of the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit (EOTC) is to complete and submit the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit Worksheet when you file your Maine income tax return. We highly recommend that you use the online Tax Estimator that can be found on our Resources page to determine the amount of tax credit you may be eligible for. This tool can also be used to complete the EOTC tax worksheet for individuals. For a hard copy of the blank EOTC tax credit worksheet click here.

You can use either the tax credit worksheet or the tax credit estimator to estimate your “benchmark loan payment.” This will in turn determine the maximum tax credit you can claim.
The “benchmark loan payment” for your eligible tax credit is determined by your college, based upon a formula. If you completed an Opportunity Maine Contract with your school when you attended, you should refer to this document as it should list the amount of your “benchmark loan payment.” If you did not complete an Opportunity Maine Contract or cannot locate it, you will need to contact your college’s financial aid office so they can determine what the benchmark loan payment amount was for their institution for your year of graduation. The Benchmark Loan Payment Request Form can be completed and submitted to your school to solicit this information.

Eligibility

With the passing of LD 1657 this year, the eligibility for the EOTC has expanded. For tax year 2015, to qualify for the program, you must meet the following criteria.

 Amount of the Credit
Credit Calculator
Eligible Education Loan Payments
Employer Credit

Businesses looking for unique incentives to retain and attract quality employees should explore the potential of incorporating the Opportunity Maine program into their benefit offerings. The program can work to address two key issues currently hindering Maine businesses and consequently the region’s economy. It is well known that student loan debt is crippling many young Mainers as well as individuals across the country. In addition, Maine employers are facing serious shortages in finding qualified talent to fill their job vacancies. This restricts the capabilities of organizations to operate at maximum efficiency.

The Opportunity Maine program can help address these concerns by assisting Maine employers in attracting and retaining quality employees while also bridging the financial gap of student loan debt for their workers.

The employer program is relatively simple. Employers claim Maine income tax credits for eligible education loan payments they make directly to a lender on behalf of their employee. As long as the employee meets the eligibility criteria, the business can then receive maximum annual tax credits worth nearly $800 for an associate’s degree and over $4,000 for a bachelor’s. This is a huge benefit for employees, who are relieved of the stress and burden of their student loan debt. And it allows businesses to offer this distinct and extremely attractive benefit at a very low cost due to the tax credits they will receive through the program.

Employers who want to participate in the program need to just complete the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit Worksheet for Employers and submit it with their yearly Maine state tax returns.

The passing of LD 1657 expanded the employer credit to include eligibility for graduate degrees earned by qualified employees and removes the principal cap relative to qualified employees.

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